Monday, April 04, 2011
Proboscis Monkeys Found Chewing Their Food Twice
Pinocchio has nothing on the proboscis monkey. The fabled wooden boy's nose grew to extreme lengths only when he told lies, but this real-life primate has a big nose no matter what it does.
Combined with their pot bellies – the result of the complicated digestive system necessary to stomach their diet of leaves and fruit – their appearance could charitably be described as peculiar. But it now seems the proboscis monkey has a truly peculiar foible: it is the only primate known to chew the cud – it regurgitates its food and chews it a second time.
Ikki Matsuda of Kyoto University in Inuyama, Japan, and colleagues made two trips to the monkeys' habitat in Borneo in recent years. Watching from a boat while the animals perched in riverside trees, they were surprised to see them apparently regurgitating food and chewing it again.
Matsuda saw monkeys of both sexes and all ages doing this, chewing the regurgitated food for an average of 5 minutes. Monkeys spent longer feeding on days when they regurgitated.
He thinks the regurgitation helps clear large food particles from the monkeys' foreguts, allowing them to eat more. Large tree-living animals like proboscis monkeys are often forced to eat poorer-quality foliage because they are confined to big branches, so being able to eat more could be crucial.
Full story here.